Social Media is a powerful tool for getting the word out about veganism and highlighting the role consumers play in the continued exploitation of animals for our wants not needs as well as the resulting and ongoing devastation of the environment and our health. And I use it, boy, do I use it. I find Facebook to be the most effective Social Media tool for me in my advocacy, so it is definitely my go to source for posting about all that resonates with me. I also have learned about animal rights advocacy events going on in my neck of the woods, garnered some valuable information, connected with many like minded people, and not so many not like minded people. I share the articles on my website hoping to widen the circle of connection, so that we become a much bigger force, an ocean filled with the tides of change. rather than a pond.
I have witnessed all types of advocacy, some of which I agree with and some of which I don’t. Some positions are very strident and I disagree with them mainly because I am not sure how effective they are. I am not an expert in the field of human behavior, but it has been my experience that people will tune you out if they think you are accusing them of something. The defensive walls go up and you have literally no chance of breaking through. But hey, I get the it, those of us who are vegan have exposed ourselves to the atrocities perpetrated by the industries which enslave, manipulate, abuse and eventually murder animals. We know what is at stake and we want people to stop, just stop.
We may not have been in the slaughterhouses, on the farms, in medical labs, and so on but there is plenty of footage out there that documents the horrors that go on behind these walls. We are a passionate bunch and I would hazard a guess that this is so, in part because we have connected on a visceral level with the 65 billion land animals and the trillions of aquatic animals who die every year at the whim of humans. We can look into the eyes of a caged animal at a zoo and see into his or her soul and the hopelessness there. We can imagine what it feels like to be born into slavery, to be forcibly separated from our children, to be experimented on and to be hunted and trapped and ultimately to die, never having lived.
This does not make us special, it only makes us more aware. We have looked at the man behind the curtain, we continue to debunk the myths spun by industry leaders and governments, myths designed to keep us in the dark. Animals do not live good lives in these industries, just by virtue of the fact that they are enslaved. There is no such thing as “humane meat”. Cage free hens do not enjoy better living conditions, grass fed beef is not better for the environment, organically raised animals are denied antibiotics when they are sick, cows are not happy to give their milk to us, horses do not like being ridden because they love to run and “milk definitely does not do a body good”.
I think constantly (no exaggeration) about how best to raise the level of awareness and consciousness of non vegans and ultimately to change their hearts and minds, with a view to liberating all enslaved nations of animals. I think about the graphic pictures and videos, documentaries that I have seen and those I cannot bear to watch, such as Earthlings. I admire those who can bear witness, but I feel that watching them would leave me sitting in a corner, paralyzed, unable to move or be productive in any capacity. This is why I don’t usually share them on my Facebook Page, nor post them in the articles I write on my website. I cringe and quickly scroll past them on my news feed, with the little snippets I do see seared into my heart and mind. Does this failing make me weak? – maybe, but it just is what it is.
So when I saw this meme on Facebook the other day, I decided to ask my friends and vegan and animal rights groups what they thought of its message and whether or not they believe posting graphic material is of value in our advocacy. I did not expect the number of comments I received. They were respectful for the most part, which is not always the case and heartfelt and passionate which is always the case.
Here is my takeaway.
1) Censorship is not an option even if people do not like seeing this material. People are free to make a moral judgement about whether or not material is appropriate to publish themselves, but may not restrict others from doing so if the actions documented in said material are deemed legal.
To quote a valued family member regarding censorship and the law pertaining to the abuse featured in materials:
Unless something is illegal people should be allowed to post whatever they want, regardless of what someone else thinks of it.
Censorship equals fascism. If it’s not illegal then it’s legal. If one doesn’t like the laws then pressure government to change them, but censorship is never the answer.
2) People have control over their own pages and admins over their own groups and may delete whatever they find offensive and inappropriate and even block or unfriend people if they so wish. If anyone witnesses or views published material containing illegal actions he or she can to report them to Facebook and the proper authorities. They may also report images and material that fall outside of the accepted guidelines of Facebook.
3) The problem is not the graphic material, the problems is the abuse. If one cannot stomach the pictures, then one must end the abuse.
4) Most of the people who commented agreed that a graphic image or video was the catalyst for them becoming vegan, thereby confirming the value of continuing to post the abuses in all of the various animal death for profit industries.
Shirin Zah has this to say:
They are eye opening and the best way to pass on a message. I have changed because of these graphic posts. It’s the truth and if we don’t like it imagine how much they don’t like it. Animals are in desperate need suffering every second of a day and night. We owe it to them to get the truth out and have more people become compassionate about them. Truth is the truth, if we alter it it’ll become a lie!
5) It was pointed out to me that there are people who profit financially and psychologically and emotionally from the online posting of abuse. I have no doubt that this happens, but I think we are on a very slippery slope when we let a few abusers dictate what is posted online. There are always users and abusers within every segment of society. They will continue to do what they do regardless of what is posted online. To me this is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater – never a good idea. Having said that, I think that it is very important to check or know the source of the material you are sharing to avoid that of which Vicki Rambo speaks:
Profiting from making photos for the internet, another reason not to share violence.
6) The photographs of animal rights photojournalists like Jo-Anne McArthur of We Animals are well worth using and sharing. They are evocative, telling, sad, soulful, rarely extremely graphic, but very effective in portraying the cruelty and confinement and resulting hopelessness for the animals for whom we all advocate.
Annie’s Vegan View
This is how progress is made.
May all beings be happy and free.
30 thoughts on “Vegans posting disturbing images of animal abuse on social media”
Graphic images and videos can be powerful tools in waking up the unaware and shocking them into making changes. Graphic images can also cause secondary traumatic stress among animal rights/vegan advocates who continue to expose themselves to them day after day after day. People who are already vegan and advocates for animals need to realize that they do not need to continually pound themselves into states of depression by viewing every image or video that appears on their screen. This does them no good and thus does the animals no good.
Your points are well taken. I definitely try to stay away from the most horrific of images and I do recognize their value in raising awareness in encouraging people not to “look away” from their complicity.
I feel some images are necessary to show what goes on the the dairy industry because most people think no animals are harmed. This brings awareness that not only physical abuse but psychological abuse goes on and that the animals do feel and love as we do. The violent ones are necessary also to show the abuse that goes on, I myself have a hard time watching most of these. We cannot let these things continue. These are living beings who are like us, sentient and we are there voices. I think people who eat meat do not want to be reminded of what really goes on. They want to enjoy their addiction without thought to how it came about. Most people just eat and do not think at all about it. The Ag Gag laws to try to hide all these atrocities are in place in some states because they know if people really saw what goes on they would not like it and might give up their products or request better treatment of the animals. I wish they would just clone steaks, etc and leave the living animal out of it. Of course this would threaten a lot of people who exploit animals and they would fight like crazy to keep that from ever happening. Getting carried away here. Graphic images need to be shown especially to prosecute the perpetrators. A person can always not watch or stop the video, I know I do.
I saw an image just the other day about udder singeing. I had never heard of it and I am glad now that I do. It is a violent practice that I will now be able to point out to people when they bring up the subject of how dairy is not harmful to the cows.
Jo-Anne MacArthur says that she takes and publishes pictures because she is trying to get people to stop turning away. I am sure that horrific images of abuse also play an important part in getting people to recognize their complicity.
Ag gag laws are abominable and only serve to illustrate that all industries which exploit animals have much to hide.
Amen! I agree with all the points you made. I am unable to watch these videos and shots of cruelty, abuse etc. As it makes me vomit every time. I think that a shock like seeing these videos is what may be needed for those who choose to live with the wool over their eyes. I do NOT agree to children being exposed to images or videos. There are many ways to educate children without shocking media. I think that speaking about it and truthfully answering kids questions is enough. All the best.🐓
Welcome to my website and thank you for sharing your perspective. I do think there is a place for these images as they depict the unvarnished truth. I am not sure how I feel about children being shown them. I know that my daughter does speak candidly to her children whenever they have questions.
It is necessary to show people harm and abuse in this world, for all Earthlings.
Once people know, they can help to produce change.
Ignorance is never bliss, it is genuine contribution to harm, naively or willingly.
“If you don’t like seeing the images of violence towards animals being posted, you need to help stop the violence, not the pictures.” – Johnny Depp (not sure if he is the originator of the quote or just repeated it.)
Agreed on all points. Thank you for weighing in on this controversial issue.
I agree with most of your “Takeway”
Side note: The word “graphic” is often misused. I do not perceive the use of the term “graphic” as being a bad thing or a match with what people are opposing.
Graphic: “vividly or plainly shown” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/graphic
Reading between the “object to graphic images” statements by non-vegans seems more likely that they are saying: “My conscience objects to seeing any reality based images of animals agriculture that depicts inhumane treatment. I do not feel secure when you contradict the propaganda images I have been indoctrinated with by the farm animals industries, since it makes me feel, sick, sadness, shame… which challenges my diet security illusions and my acceptance in to certain social structures.”
Thank you for the clarification of the definition of graphic. I will definitely amend the way I use it. This seems to be similar to the misuse of the word “judge” which people tend to think of as always being negative.
I agree with your comments Annie. How else is the truth to be communicated when people do not want to know? Words are not enough. Simply telling someone fur is cruel, is far less helpful than showing them a photo of the animals in captivity, the method of killing, the skinned animal. It is needed that people see the truth, not be sheltered from it, like it or not.
What is important is to distinguish posts/pictures of animals suffering that have no real educational potential in showing that particular image, or where the violence of an image is not necessary to any particular message, from those photos/films that are showing people the truth of what is happening or being done to animals, in an educational way – I think that is the crucial thing.
Thank you for clarifying the issue of intent. My goal is always to educate and while I find it difficult to post and to see the most horrifying of materials, I respect the right of others to do so and agree that this material may be the very thing that shocks people into understanding and action.
hi annie… i believe we owe it to the voiceless victims to share their stories, to show the horror they endure, and support the activists who put their freedom and sanity on the line to gather the information and get it out there for the world to see and acknowledge…
No argument here. I would like to encourage people who are posting this material to try to ensure that it does not come from people and/or organizations attempting to profit from the images, either, financially, emotionally or psychologically.
Most people do not have a clue about what goes on in the factory farm. We do know. It is up to us to reveal the truth and ask if they are wiling to pay people to do this. Howard Lyman said. “If you ever have a chance to enter a slaughterhouse, don’t”. That says it quite well. Although the AG GAG bill makes it very risky to even go near a factory farm. I did not know until I was educated about the issue. Many people simply do not want to know about the horrors of the meat industry Some will say, “how awful” but continue to eat meat as if they were not part of the holocaust.
Thank you for your insightful comments.
Yes, factory farming is despicable, along with all industries which exploit animals. Even animals on supposedly small, sustainable and humane farms end up at the slaughterhouse.
I certainly agree that it is our responsibility to continue to educate and inform, with a view to getting people to stop turning away.
Take care and thanks again.
I hope to have my e-book for sale on amazon in the next few days, It is titled, “Why Vegan”.
Congratulations on your efforts to bring veganism into the forefront of people’s consciousness. I look forward to the publication of your book. Please share the link here when it is ready for purchase.
Glad to meet you vegangrammie/ I am a great grandmother!!
Very glad to meet you too. …a great grandmother-lucky, lucky and blessed.
Hi Anne, late to the discussion, but basically what was going through my head as I read the post was exactly what was said in the first comment by Jeff. Images and videos of abuse are powerful tools, but they may not serve all groups equally well. That is, they’re excellent for raising awareness for the unaware, but can add even more stress to seasoned advocates who may already be having a hard time coping. In other words, use judiciously. 🙂
At the other end of the spectrum are those images of other animals who remind us of how emotions and behaviours that we tend to think of as human are actually shared with many species. Those affirmative images can be just as effective in opening people’s minds and hearts.
The discussion is always open, so one can never be late.
As I mentioned in my article, I find it difficult to witness highly disturbing and violent material. Even pictures of a baby alone in a barn, or stall or wheelbarrow, or cage are very disturbing to me and hurt my heart. They are all difficult to look at. I now try to avoid them when I can, and yet I must say that I was glad to see a picture of udder singeing because I did not even know that such a barbaric procedure existed. I need to know on some level what is going on so that I can inform others when the subject of animal exploitation comes up.
And yes, let us not underestimate the value of heartwarming material which reminds us of the similarities we share with other nations of animals. they serve to remind everyone that other species are owed the same right to respect and autonomy.
I became vegan after seeing undercover videos of animal.ag. Equally important, I researched health info about plant-based diet AND info about who the animals are that people eat. Learning the horrors of animal at and learning about animal. (And fowl and fish) sentience, unique intelligence, and social capacities) we’re equally important. I.am against only showing the horrors because this does not represent the animals or help.to illuminate or educate about speciesism, the root of all evils done to animals. Facebook is one big gloppy mess of unorganized “informatoon” that can’t be controlled. We have to take care of ourselves and choose what to see or ignore. Showing the horrors is essential but only one part of the message. The path ahead needs to be illuminated with positive reinforcements.
Thank you for sharing your perspective. I agree that we need positive reinforcements as well. I think that people react in different ways to different material and triggers. I don’t post the violently graphic images because I cannot look at them myself. But I do understand that they have value in informing people simple because it is the truth.
I am in agreement with the comments here. I immediately stopped eating meat when I saw the horrific photos posted on FB and became aware of the atrocities that happen to animals. I also post and have posted pics snd videos- however, I have reduced the amount and do not post the more graphic ones because I did suffer from self-inflicted PTSD from doing that.
Unfortunately, I still hear the comments, “God put the animals here for us to eat” or “I don’t care, I love meat” and on and on and on. And, yet I still hear how much the same people love animals. I find the whole thing disturbing and heartbreaking.
Hi Mary Lou,
Thanks for weighing in. So sorry to hear about the PTSD. I do have to scroll quickly past the most violent of images and sounds because they paralyze me. I am also deeply saddened by less violent images which portray the heartbreak non humans suffer at our hands and yes, the callous comments leave me shaking my head.
On a positive note, I do feel that more light is being shone on the exploitation and I am very hopeful that significant changes are in the wind.
It’s a mixed bag. I avoid watching graphic images of abuse because they haunt me for years. The last one I looked at was a video of a man jumping up and down on the back of a dairy cow and bending her tail the wrong way, and all she did by way of protestation was to bellow and look distressed. She did not retaliate physically at all, and I felt ashamed to be part of a species that believes itself to be intelligent and superior, but with far too many of us who act like that. I have largely been vegan for years, but I became 100% vegan more recently when I saw a graphic image of a black rhino with it’s horn cut from its face (one of the overall winners from Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018). The photo made me feel so sad, and I realised that if I thought it was sad that people poached animals for trinkets or medicine, then I was a hypocrite if I had anything at all to do with the demise, disfigurement or captivity of any living creature. I understand people don’t want to see graphic images, and most often they don’t need to unless they click on the video link. I certainly avoid watching these things, but I am now converted, and I think the reason veganism is spreading is a lot to do with social media and the awareness it gives us as to what’s going on in the world.
Welcome to my website and thank you for your thoughtful reply and for sharing your personal story. I agree that social media is having a very positive impact on awareness and I am hopeful that more and more people will see the exploitation as you do.
I do not need these graphic reminders of something I am already aware of. I do NOT need this disgusting images shoved down my throat after a long day when I’m trying to relax.
Welcome to my website and I understand your position. I think it is important to keep in mind that it is not always our comfort that is paramount. These images are reflective of the truth and do need to see the light of day.